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Artichoke: Tender Heart Beneath The Surface

The edible part of the artichoke is in fact the green part found in the flower bud. The almost bitter taste comes from the organic acid cynarin and is apparently an excellent stimulant to the liver and assist with lowering cholesterol levels.

Unlike most of us who are easily intimidated by the artichoke’s tough armour, Italian cooks are known to be the best at giving it justice in the kitchen. Under the tuscan sun, they are often served up braised, stuffed, deep-fried, shaved and in salads.

Cooking with artichokes doesn’t have to be as daunting as their appearance might suggest. My version is super simple and can be refrigerated to be used for antipasto, pasta, pizza or salads. Start fresh and choose artichokes that  are plump and heavy with tightly closed leaves and a hard stem.

“When the outer leaves are removed from the artichoke there should be a definite squeak, indicating its freshness”

– Stephanie Alexander

Ingredients

  • 8 artichokes
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • ½ lemon rind peeled
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch cumin seeds

Method

  1. Remove the tough outer leaves until you reach the pale, tender inner leaves.
  2. Trim from the top to base by cutting down the length of the stem to remove the outside of the stalk.
  3. Cut in half or quarters lengthways. Discard any hairy, fibrous choke.
  4. Marinate overnight in juice, lemon peel, salt, garlic, bay leaf and cumin. Note: Artichokes discolor very quickly when exposed to air.
  5. Transfer into a pot with olive oil and slow braise for 30 mins on low heat or regularly turn them over until artichokes are perfectly tender.

Tip

  • Eat as is or leave to cool and refrigerate in jar/container until required.

Save nature and don’t discard all those outer leaves closer to the stem because you can leave them to dry to make artichoke tea! – Cat

Fight Fat with Fright

A long while back a study showed that watching 90-minute adrenaline-pumping horror films could burn nearly as much as 200 Calories. Read more. Imagine the results of doing a horror film marathon with a pack of crispy chips.

The top 10 calorie-burning frightening films were:

  1. The Shining: 184 calories
  2. Jaws: 161 calories
  3. The Exorcist: 158 calories
  4. Alien: 152 calories
  5. Saw: 133 calories
  6. A Nightmare on Elm Street: 118 calories
  7. Paranormal Activity: 111 calories
  8. The Blair Witch Project: 105 calories
  9. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 107 calories
  10. [Rec]: 101 calories

Cuppa Rooibos?

Pronouced roo-ee-bosh, Rooibos is indigenous to South Africa, a shrub with long needle-shaped leaves that turn red upon fermentation. Beautifully blends with green tea leaves, dried fruits or Chai spices (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc). Some publications suggests this tisane is full of health benefits

  •  Caffeine free – The rooibos plant grows naturally without any caffeine. This is important, as it means it does not need to undergo a chemical process to remove the caffeine. It also means that anyone can drink it, including those who do not want to drink caffeine such as children & pregnant women. The other key benefit of no caffeine is that rooibos tea can be drunk in unrestricted amounts, in fact, the average South African will consume 5-6 cups per day.
  • Contains powerful antioxidants – Rooibos tea contains a huge array of antioxidants, which help to protect the body in a number of ways. Two polyphenol antioxidants called aspalathin and nothofagin are found in high concentrations in rooibos tea. These antioxidants protect the body by fighting free radicals. These are unstable cells, which attack healthy cells in order to stabilise themselves. The polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory properties and can safeguard against heart disease.
  • Prevents against some cancers – Some studies have demonstrated a link between consumption of rooibos tea and a reduction of cancer-causing chemicals. This is because of the high level of dominant antioxidants, some of which have anti-mutagenic properties. This means that they defend cells & DNA against damage and inhibit them from developing into cancer.
  • High mineral content – One of the key health benefits of rooibos tea is that it contains several minerals that are vital to health. These include: magnesium – essential for the nervous system, calcium & manganese – essential for strong teeth and bones, zinc – important for metabolism and iron – critical for helping blood & muscles distribute oxygen.
  • Improves circulation – One of the many potent antioxidants in rooibos tea is called Chysoeriol. It can improve circulation by preventing the activity of the enzyme that triggers cardiovascular disease. Drinking rooibos tea also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Relieves stomach complaints – As rooibos tea contains high levels of flavonoids, especially one called quercetin, it has the ability to relieve numerous abdominal ailments such as cramps, diahorrea and indigestion. This is because the flavonoids help to reduce spasm, inflammation and allergies. It has also been widely stated that the health benefits of rooibos tea extend to alleviating colic in babies. As it is totally caffeine free, it is perfectly safe for them to drink rooibos tea.
  • Aids absorption of iron – Unlike most black teas, which prevent the body from absorbing iron effectively because of the tannins they contain, rooibos tea supports the body in absorbing iron. This is because rooibos tea contains less than half the tannins of black tea.
  • Can relieve skin conditions – A more recent discovery of the benefits of rooibos tea is that it can help you to look more beautiful! Rooibos tea contains phenyl pyretic acid, which can help to improve acne, psoriasis and eczema. You can apply a freshly brewed and cooled tea bag to the affected areas and it will soothe and heal any inflammation.
  • Can protect against Parkinsons/Alzheimers disease – drinking rooibos tea regularly can protect against a process known as lipid peridoxation. This is where free radicals damage brain cells and nerve tissue. If this is prolonged, it can lead eventually to progressive and deteriorating brain disease, such as Alzheimers.  Laboratory tests on rats showed little difference in brain function from a group of older rats given rooibos tea to the brains of newborn rats.
  • Encourages restful sleep – One of the many health benefits of rooibos tea is that it can be drunk as often as you wish and at any time of day. Many people choose to drink it before bedtime as it can help with insomnia. Due to its high mineral content and lack of caffeine, it helps people to feel calm and relaxed.